You can watch its overture on YouTube, read a detailed synopsis on Wikipedia or learn about the upcoming local production in this article, but Thaddeus Strassberger insists that the only way to really understand “Fidelio” is to be there.
“It’s very difficult to describe,” says Strassberger, who as the opera’s director and designer knows a thing or two about it. “You can read a review or go on a website, but the performance we’re doing only exists when the conductor picks up the baton and starts the orchestra.”
If anyone could explain it, it would be Strassberger. The dual role of opera director and designer sounds daunting, but he says it’s not.
“I don’t really see a division between designing and directing,” he says. “If you design a door, you’re thinking about the person who’s going to be going through the door. It’s an action, as well as an object.”
Strassberger hopes that this show will draw a broader crowd than other operas. It helps that its composer is a household name: Beethoven. “Fidelio” is the famed composer’s only opera.
“Opera is not just this elite art form,” says Strassberger. “I hope that people can start to see it as a larger part of cultural life, not just a special event.”
A brief attempt at explanation:
“Fidelio” is a woman, disguised as a man, who works at a prison so that she can rescue her unfairly detained husband. Sound confusing? Don’t worry — although the songs are in German, there are subtitles, and all spoken dialogue is in English.